Sixty passengers aboard a commercial airliner took a trip they didn’t expect while on their way to Charleston on Thursday night.
“It was an interesting night,” said Carol Hannon, one of the flight’s passengers.
Delta Flight 4898 was supposed to leave Atlanta and arrive at the Charleston International Airport, but the flight was redirected to Columbia because of runway construction in Charleston.
“We noticed we kept circling Charleston. About 15 minutes after we should have landed, the pilot came on and said no one was at the Charleston airport and that it’s shut down,” Hannons said.
Becky Beaman, a spokeswoman for the Charleston County Aviation Authority, said the flight left Atlanta too late to arrive on time in Charleston and the runway was closed for construction when the plane needed to land.
The flight was scheduled to land in Charleston at 11:56 p.m. Thursday but did not leave Atlanta until after midnight.
Runway construction was scheduled to take place the 10th through the 13th. The runway, which is owned by Charleston Air Force Base, was closed during those days from 12:15 a.m. to 5:15 a.m., according to Master Sgt. Maria Bare.
Hannon, 49, of West Ashley, who’d traveled from Philadelphia to Atlanta for the connecting flight, said the pilot then announced they would not have enough fuel to return to Atlanta so they would divert to Columbia. After landing in the state capital, it took about an hour and half before they were allowed to disembark, Hannon said. The pilot cited issues about the availability of a ground crew, she said.
Once the passengers got off the plane, they were sent to Charleston in taxis. Hannon said she arrived in Charleston at around 5 a.m. tired and frustrated.
“Everyone was pointing the fingers at everybody. Charleston International was blaming Delta, Delta was blaming Charleston International and Columbia was stuck in the middle,” she said.
The plane is owned by ExpressJet Airlines, operating as a Delta connection, Allison Curtin, ExpressJet’s manager of corporate communications, said. She confirmed that all passengers were provided ground transportation to Charleston.
“We are currently investigating to determine why the situation occurred,” she said. “We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this caused to passengers.”
Bryan Faliero, 48, of Charleston, who was also a passenger on the flight called it a hectic situation but said he thinks Delta was trying to do something to help.
“In the end, Delta did give us a cup of water and a cab ride home,” Faliero said. “So we had that going for us.”
Lauren Sausser and Glenn Smith contributed to this report. Reach Natalie Caula at 937-5594 or Twitter.com/ncaula.